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Why Web3 Will Change Everything (In Plain English)

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

Authored by Deep Pulusani via ‘Moment of Deep’ substack,

This post was inspired by the following tweet and most popular reply:

Jack Altman Tweet

Dr. Danish Tweet

Some notes before we start: the term web3 today is sometimes used synonymously to mean cryptocurrency, blockchain tech, virtual reality/augmented reality & the metaverse. I find that people already have a more intuitive understanding of how VR/AR may change the future. Therefore, I’ll only be writing about how crypto & blockchain tech in the context of web3 will transform the future, since it’s a bit more challenging to understand and abstract in its concepts.

Often this subject is explained with technical specifications or more commonly with political terms, ideas about liberty, decentralization, censorship, and power. These are all important; but what ultimately determines if web3 powered by crypto is the future lies in the economic and productive value it brings, the increases in quality of life it can achieve. These are the aspects I hope to make clear.

Where we’ve come from and where we are

All of the iterations of the web are digital revolutions, i.e. not only do more of our analog (physical) lives move to the digital realm, but new digitally native (digital-first) experiences are invented as well.

Web1 (1990s): a revolution in information availability.

Information and content from the real world is put online. Information is no longer a local phenomena nor a physical one, but is available for anyone with an internet connection to access. Early web protocols also allow for file transfers, emails, and web pages.

Examples: personal web pages, Encyclopedia Britannica & Encarta online, FTP, MapQuest

Web2 (2000-): a revolution in creation, experience, and connection.

The static becomes dynamic, and a convergence of hardware and software technologies enable us to experience rich interfaces and interactions on the web. Our lives start to become increasingly digital – compare what percent of your daily attention is focused online in 1999, then 2009, and then 2019. The ecosystem and interface of web2 is now rich enough where people can spend the majority of their lives online – from their careers, relationships, hobbies, investments, etc. – we now spend much of our lives in digital space. We also consume most of our content digitally, create much of our output digitally, and connect most frequently with others through messaging apps and social networks.

Examples: YouTube, Google Docs, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Robinhood, smart home & smart health devices

Web3 (2015-): a revolution in coordination, ownership, and value transfer.

I’ll break down each of these web3 revolutions in the ‘Web3 Paradigm Shifts’ section further below. It’s important to note first, however, that much of what will happen in web3 has its roots in web2. What’s often lost in all the web3 talk is that the web2 era is not over and will continue to produce enormous value and new companies. Let’s see how web3 powered by crypto is the next logical step to some of the revolutions of web2.

Web3 Extensions of Web2.

New and more powerful networks.

In web1 times, your networks might’ve included your local community, your job, your family, and friends you grow up with. Maybe you were part of a mailing list or a forum if you were savvy online. In web2, networks proliferated rapidly, and continue to explode. You might have networks on FB, telegram groups, IG niches, corners of Twitter, or varied family/friend WhatsApp groups.

This network creation continues in web3 with the introduction of the value network. Examples include Ethereum, Solana, Polkadot, countless others – each currency representing its own individual network of users. In addition, you have the tokens built on top of these programmable currencies, tokens that any individual or business can issue. The result is a proliferation of value networks that are themselves nested into a larger, more powerful network that it can communicate with and transfer between. This is an extremely powerful new invention because a value network can be added to all of our existing networks in web2 – to our existing social networks, messaging networks, and content networks – or to brand new networks entirely. Essentially any network can be monetized, tokenized, or incentivized, creating supercharged versions of our already rich variety of networks.

Explosion of creative activity, niches, and formats.

Even if we just include web2 companies launched in the past few years alone – TikTok, Substack, Clubhouse, etc. – there’s so many creative and productive niches for individuals to occupy. Couple that with increasingly easier ways to distribute content among a proliferation of platforms (aka networks), it’s no wonder there has been an explosion of creative activity and individual power over the past 20 years. In the web1 world, we still mainly had movie stars and bestselling authors. In web2, we have stars and activists in every genre, category, and format you could ask for. What progresses in web3 is the further expansion of platforms, niches, and content types. Most notably, you will see more purely digital creation and digital reward (e.g. create an opera in a virtual world that’s monetized by a virtual currency that’s easily tradeable into other virtual currencies or goods). Furthermore, the platforms that creators and producers use will be less intrusive, less expensive, and more malleable than the monolithic platforms of today.

Ease of global collaboration

Cloud storage & editing, powerful front-end frameworks, and ever-increasing browser strength have made it possible to collaborate effectively with anyone, anywhere, and in practically any field. Figma and Airtable are just two examples of recent web2 companies that have accelerated the ease of collaboration with individuals halfway around the world. The pandemic has further accelerated this phenomena. With web3, we now have organizations that can be independently formed with no underlying platform dependence. These organizations, dubbed DAOs, can be both incentivized to work towards a common goal and govern themselves through tokenization. Anonymous, pseudonymous, or fully public individuals can have their work measured and verified through a publicly available blockchain.

Disintermediation and distribution.

Web3 will continue the trend of removing distance between producer and consumer. There is a continual disintermediation happening on the web. During web1, to release a successful music album you had to go artist → label → distributer → retailer → consumer. At each step there is profit loss and gatekeepers deciding whether you can continue onward to distribute. In web2 you got to go either 1-step closer (artist → label → platform → consumer) or 2-steps closer for those fully independent ( artist → platform → consumer). Web3 continues this disintermediation, as the platform merely becomes the underlying network or protocol the connection is made over (artist → consumer via protocol or network). There’s no longer gatekeepers or an expensive take-rate. There can still be curators to guide consumers (the difference being that a curator can make money independently of the artist’s margin). The end goal is that all service providers or product creators have the option to be connected directly with service seekers and product consumers.

Disintermediation is only possible because of the increasing ability to self-distribute. In the past, middle men at each step were essential to ensure wide distribution. Web2 gave us powerful tools of self-distribution through platforms like Amazon, Shopify, Google Ads, Social Media, SoundCloud, etc. (…more)

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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